Blogger: Rachel Kent
I am diving in now to my preparations for ICRS at the end of June. ICRS is a wonderful place for agents to meet face-to-face with editors to talk about our clients’ projects. There’s great benefit to pitching a project in person and it is the same for authors who attend writers’ conferences. Here are some of the reasons why pitching a project in person is so beneficial:
1) It puts a face to the name and personalizes the project.
When agents or authors send query letters, they become one letter in a very crowded inbox. The project inside might be fantastic, but that query email looks just like all of the others. It’s hard for it to stand apart. Also, it is hard for agents and editors to get excited about reading a pile of queries (we get SO many of them), so the recipient of that email might already be in a bad mood before he or she even looks at your amazing idea.
When you pitch in person, you are able to have that editor or agent’s attention for a number of minutes and you can put your enthusiasm for the project into your pitch. The passion you have for the idea can be catching.
And as a whole, our agency finds more clients at writers’ conferences than anywhere else. It might be worth it for you to try a conference if you have been putting it off. The personal pitch does make a difference!
2) You can get instant feedback.
You can find out immediately if you’re off the mark or if you’ve hit a home run instead of waiting for months wondering what happened to your query. Or the editor/agent might have feedback to help change the project in some way to make it stronger. Because you have some time together, you are likely to get more details than just a yes or a no. Sending a query doesn’t give you the same opportunity.
3) You can find out what that publishing house/editor/agent is looking for and see if you can fit the need.
When we pitch in person at ICRS, we always take time to listen to the editors and ask questions. This is a good practice for conferences, too. Don’t spend your entire appointment going on and on about your idea. Save a couple of minutes to ask what the agent is passionate about representing or what specifically the publishing house is looking for. You might find that you have an idea to fit that need.
What other benefits of pitching in person might you add to the list?
Do you have a fun or memorable pitch story to share?
Benefits and risks of body language: Will the agent smile//tense up/laugh at my pitch? Will I freeze up/be natural/rattle on during my pitch? Will the agent read my words with aggravation/eagerness/dread? Will I respond to suggestions with grace/anger/tears?
In-person offers many advantages wrapped in the risk of making a fool of myself. But then, if I’m not ready to take a risk promoting my book, why would an agent?
If I may say…just be the ‘you’ that you are here, and any agent will feel privileged to be in your company. In the warmth of your deep and genuine faith, one feels the loving touch of the Almighty.
Shirlee, I feel your pain. I love 1 Corinthians 4:9-10 … “We are fools for Christ ….” There is no one I’d rather be a fool for. 🙂
I have only ever made 2 authors cry during appointments and it wasn’t because I was mean! 🙂
And yes, reading body language is a big advantage of meeting in person.
Rachel, What are you doing at the International Cannabinoid Research Society? You can get arrested in some states for pitching there!
Oh, I bet you are going to the other ICRS.
There are so many benefits to conferences! I wish there were more that were accessible.
I think a conference gives you career traction as well as emotional traction. I find it so easy to feel like I am spinning my wheels.
Emotional traction…I like that! Cool concept.
I didn’t know there was such a conference! I assure you that I will not be attending THAT ICRS. 🙂
I’d love to meet you there to talk teen fiction 🙂
Kathy, I’m going to be spending the majority of my time there pitching to editors, but do email me and I will see if I can make it work. Our schedule is already very full!
E-mail address? I will just send you a short letter and you can decide if we meet 🙂
On the far side of a simply terrifying night…the chances that I shall be pitching in person are seeming ever more remote. It may be as well; circumstances have slowed my speech to the point where one might think I actually did just come from the International Cannabinoid Research Society Conference. (No, it’s not medication-driven…can’t afford pain meds, and opioids don’t mix well with severe PTSD…ask Barbara.).
Wish it were otherwise, but “can’t all have a prize”, as they say. Might be for the best, as I have a much easier time promoting the work of others than my own efforts. That really came out when I was interviewing for a faculty job. Took a few years for me to find one, but I did place a couple of friends along the way, by talking them up. Weird.
But by God, I would just like to meet you all, in person. That would be more than enough, a blessing that would set the cup to overflowing, and make the writing road more than worthwhile.
Kristen Joy Wilks
I’m praying for you today, Andrew. Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”
Methinks there will be meeting rooms among the many rooms in our Father’s house. One will have a Books & Such sign on the door. We’ll gather round the table with our favorite heavenly beverage and discuss our books. Won’t it be fun? I am eager to meet Andrew there, still overflowing with wisdom but without the pain.
Janet Ann Collins
What a day of rejoicing that will be! And all the pain will be gone.
Truly something to which to look forward!
I’m so sorry, Andrew. I hope and pray tonight is restful for you and Barbara.
And you are a blessing to many! God has used you in big ways.
Thank you so much, Rachel.
One other advantage of pitching in person, at least to agents, is a better understanding of what kind of person the agent is and if your personalities will mesh well together should he/she choose to represent you.
And, one agent I met with at ACFW one year, though she didn’t offer representation, did offer encouragement and a few suggestions on what to strengthen in my story. That meant a lot to me!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Although stressful (I usually feel like I’m going to puke) I enjoy pitching in person. You get to meet new people and hear about the books they like. Several times my sister has sat in on my pitch sessions and been able to tell me at what point the editor or agent’s eyes glazed over. This is very helpful as it helps you to improve your pitch.
So sorry it makes you so nervous! I hear all the time about people who melt down with anxiety at conferences for pitches.
It helps to realize that it is out of your hands. A nice video has been circulating lately of Joanna Gaines (HGTV Fixer-Upper host) talking about how God seemed to sometimes take away her dream only to reestablish it when she was actually ready for it.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Once I actually start pitching I’m OK, it is before hand in the bathroom that I think I’m going to throw up. But I haven’t vomited on anyone…yet. It is good to do things that push us out of our safe zone. Good for us.
Janet Ann Collins
Kristen, most agents – at least Christian ones – are nice people. There’s no reason to be afraid of them. In person as by mail or internet, getting a rejection proves you’re really a writer. Only the wannabes who never submit anything never get rejections.
When I first started as an agent, I got nervous before meeting with authors. 🙂 It gets better the more you pitch!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Yes it does. But this was my seventh year pitching something at the NWCW Renewal and I was startled to find myself in the bathroom with a queasy stomach nonetheless. It is funny, Rachel, to think that we were all making each other nervous. And yes, everyone I have pitched to has been wonderful.
I met with an agent at one conference with the understanding that my maunscript was written but not ready to formally pitch. I asked if I could ‘pitch’ it to her anyway, wanting both the experience and any feedback/advice she was willing to offer. What a great experience! I made it through the practice pitch and she responded with questions about the story. It’s been a long enough I can’t remember everything about the conversation, but I’m still encouraged by the meeting. So I agree that face-to-face pitching is worth it!
I don’t mind pitching in person at all. Trouble is, I don’t want to wait until September for the next conference I’m attending!
You can always query! There are just great benefits to pitching in person, too!
If you query now, you might be able to discuss the project in depth with the editors who have had a chance to look at the material when you see them in September…
and September really isn’t that far away! Time sure flies.
Pitching in person also gives you a good idea of the agent’s personality and if you think it would be a good fit to work with him or her. Since writer’s conferences give you an opportunity to pitch to more than one agent, if you get a favorable response from several, you can choose which agent feels like the best fit for you.
I didn’t exactly “pitch” to Mary Keeley at ACFW 2013. *I* thought we were meeting for tea. After we got our caffeine, we sat down at 15 minutes later I had an agent.
Did I know this was going to happen? No.
Did meeting in person help our conversation go from simply a tea party, to Ugly-Cry-Fest-A-Thon 2013?
That’s not something I can answer. But I do know that meeting my agent face to face was an enormous blessing. That hour gave me a very good foundation for our partnership.
Although, someone knows what I look like when I’m wearing half a tube of
mascara. But I’m fine with that.
I’ll be pitching to editors at ACFW this year, and I’ll be well prepped, and wearing waterproof mascara.
I’ve been writing the ICRS organization, trying to find out how I can attend this book showing because I live in Melbourne, Florida, just a half-an-hour from Orlando, Florida. Is there any way I can attend the ICRS and meet you and pitch my books and a 366-day devotional I’ve been writing since 9/21 entitled, You Are God Designed? Thanks. J.P. Osterman
When pitching in person, we can immediately see if our pitch is not connecting with the agent. This gives us the opportunity to switch to another one that may be of greater interest.
This happened to me once, where the agent shook her head at my main pitch. When she explained why, I stopped and skipped my back up project because she would see the same issue with it. I went to my third idea, which I took with me “just in case.” We spent the next fifteen minutes talking about that book.
I love pitching at conferences. Meeting agents provides insight to their personalities. Everyone I have met has been gracious and provided great feedback, even when not interested.
That whole “instant feedback” thing is both encouraging…and terrifying!!
My project is a personal story, so I feel like with a personal pitch (I know this isn’t “the TRUTH”) I’m not just being like, “Hey, is my story good enough?” but I’m also saying “Hey, am I good enough?” Although, I imagine writers of every genre can subconsciously confuse the two from time to time!